The time is 6:00 p.m., and junior Parth Shah has to make his way backstage for the evening debut of Rent just after his four-hour AP United States History final. Finding time for both extracurricular activities and schoolwork is enough of a challenge in itself, but Shah has decided to dedicate his nights to his role as Mark Cohen, meaning he hasn’t seen much daylight in weeks.
Although this was Shah’s very first musical, he didn’t let his lack of experience take away from his audition, but instead, used his singing strengths to help him gain a lead role.
“I was very surprised to get the role as this is my first musical and only my second show in high school, the first being Director’s Studio,” Shah said. “I didn’t realize how much my choir experience would translate to this new endeavor, yet I was surprised at how much I had to learn. One thing I do know is that I was ecstatic and blessed to have this amazing opportunity.”
Starting out in Masters Choir his freshman year, Shah has grown as a singer since and was even awarded the Outstanding Soloist award for the a cappella group, Guys & Dolls.
“I have been in choir from the beginning of my freshman year and have been in Masters Choir through this year and last year,” Shah said. “I have also been involved in Guys & Dolls a cappella for three years with which I was lucky enough to win an Outstanding Soloist award at the ICHSA quarter finals.”
Shah’s close friend and costar, junior Anthony Saldana, admires his work ethic and enjoyed being on stage with him.
“He’s always the hardest worker in the room. He’s able to push himself to new heights every day,” Saldana said. “Working with him on stage has been one of my best experiences in high school because Parth is my best friend and to be able to be leads together was so much fun.”
Another one of Shah’s close friends, senior Isaiah Chauhan, pushed him to join the school’s theater program, and he could not be more proud of his accomplishments. Chauhan is also amazed by the amount of dedication Shah had on his role.
“This dude does not stop working on whatever he has to get done, in order to achieve excellence. Parth is the prime example of someone who is never not working. He handles pressure on quite a professional level and he adapts to any situation he is put it. Everything he puts out is of quality, and he only creates product that he is proud of,” Chauhan said. “I ensure that he will continue to excel in future Niles West Theatre productions. You can tell he really loves it here, and I know he’s excited to do more.
Shah is so glad that he was able to star in Rent. Not only was the performance aspect a great experience, but being able to communicate the true message of the play was the driving force behind his hard work.
“I love the message and stories the show tells. The real topics, some of which remain issues today, are so interesting and important to communicate. The show teaches us that ‘there is no future, there is no past,’ that we need to live in the now and recognize and appreciate what we have while living life its fullest.”